'We cannot be ignored or excluded': Prominent choreographer's career began with a dream to dance in America

A dream to dance in America, and the drive to develop her own dance company, is how the career began of one of New Jersey's most prominent choreographers – Nai-Ni Chen.

News 12 Staff

May 17, 2021, 10:28 AM

Updated 1,057 days ago

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A dream to dance in America, and the drive to develop her own dance company, is how the career began of one of New Jersey's most prominent choreographers – Nai-Ni Chen.
It was dance that first brought Chen to America on tour as a young performer from her native Taiwan. She quickly knew the country would become her home.
“I witnessed how much this country can offer me as a dancer, as a dance artist, how much more I can learn,” says Chen. “I want to have the freedom to develop my art and I want to have the freedom to search who I am and what I want to do with my art."
Chen, now a choreographer, started the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company, which is based in Fort Lee. The company is known for Chen's contemporary works, like a performance last year inspired by the pandemic. She started her dance company more than 30 years ago with a message in the movement about culture and understanding.
“Well, I think every step I go I'm making a statement to show my existence as an Asian American, and to prove that Asian American art and culture is part of American culture and we cannot be ignored or excluded,” says Chen.
Chen believes dance should uplift and unite. Her company tours the United States and abroad, consisting of a diverse group of dancers with the hope to do just that.
Chen's dance company has conducted virtual programs throughout the pandemic and is now resuming regional and national in-person performances.


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